tv Charlie Rose PBS September 22, 2009 12:00pm-1:00pm EDT
>>ose: welcome to the broadcast. wh to do abo afghanistan, what's e strategy. all washington talking about a story bob wooard about neral mcchrystas assessmen which han linked to t paper. wel talk to rajiv chandrasekaran and h analysis of the story. >>here's a lot of consternation here othe part of t military saying, you know, you've had tsssessment now for many days, why aren't there more meetings on this? why aren't you guysocusing in on bearing down this? we're fighti a war out there and we need washington to able to multitask. now, admitted, healthcare is the top priority. the administration wants a bill
out of congress soon. but there is frustration, palpablerustration on the part of the military,oth at the pentagon and out in the field in afghanistan. >> rose: also this eveng, an analysis of iran byaleh esfaiari. u may remember her, she the scholar from whington who went toisit her 93-year-old motr in hran and was arrested. >>ad whington not located th money and hadashington enged iran, this would not have hapned to me andoday we woul't have se other iranian-erican and americans sitting in jail. really think thereashis misunderstanding and lk of change between the two countries. >> ros one program ne. our conversation with valley nasser will be seent another date. tonight we lookt afghanistan and iran next.
captioni sponsored by rose communications from our studiosn new york ci, this is charlie rose. >>ose: we begin tonight with the "washington post" and the story abt general stanley chrystal's assessment of the u.s. mission in afghastan. an unclassified version of the report tt the "washington post" got, the top u. commando
warns that the mission wil likely rest in failure unless troops are increased whin the year. in stark language, h called coalition forces "poorly coigured and inexperienced in cal languages and culture he propod a robus counrinsurgency strategy that emasizes protecting afghan civilians and building up the afgh government and the army. president obamis currently reviewing the report and other approach to ahanistan, appearing on the suny talk shows this weekend, he expressed new reservatns about seing re troopsefore there was a strategy. >> if sporting the afghan natial government and buildin capacity for theirrmy and securing certain provinces advances that strategy, tn we'll move foard. but if it doesn't, then i'm not interested ijust being in afanistan for the sake of being in ahanistan oraving face or in som w sending a message that america is here for
the duration. i thk it'smportant thate match strategy to resoues. i am now going to takell this informatn and we' going to test whever resources we have against our stragy, which is if by sending you men a won into harm's way we are defeating alqaeda andthat can be own to a skeptical audience; namely, me, somebody who's always asking rd questions about deplong trps then we willo what' required to keep the amerin people safe. >>o no final decision. i just he one last qstion... >> well, the only thing i want to say, though, is at wha we... just want to make sure that everybody understands that you don'make decions about resoces before you havehe strate right. >> rose: joinings from washington now, rajiv chandrasekaran of the "washington post." he cauthored a piece tay about how the white hoe is rethinking the way rward
afghanistan and i especially pleased to have m on this show. re is the "washington pos with a picture of general mcchrystal a the headline "more forces omission failure, top u.s. command from afghan war calls theext 12 month december iceive." written by bob woodward. here is "changes have obama rethinking r stragy." pagraph of bob woodward's story. "top u.s. and natocommander in afanistan warns in an urgent confidenti assess. ofhe war that he needs more forces within the xt year and bltly states that without them the eight-year conflict wil likely result in flure" accordg to a copy of the 66-page document obtained by the "washington po." so rajiv, thank you for coming, first of all. >> good evening, charlie. >> re: tell me what's going on with thebama administration in afghanistan. >> well what the administration is now doing is it's evaluing mcrystal's assessmen but
it's jusone of myinputs that they are using to figure out the way forrd, according to some senio ofcials that we talked to over e weeke. what they'reooking at is whetr mccystal's call for a comprehenseounterinsurgency strategy that would involve more resources-- and that means more american troops-- is really t way the oma white houseants to go, or whether this is now a moment where they fundamentally redraw their strategy and say "aually, to meet our objective of dismantling and deating al qaeda afghanistan, essential play that mes is preventing al qaeda operatives from returning to afghanistan and sting up bases of operation there." ether the mission needs to narrowd from a broadernation building exercise tone that is more focused on counterterrorism and one that could be done with fer troops, perhaps more aerial drones andthat sort of
thinand less of what mcchstal is calling for. and this, arlie is a pretty siificant shift in policy. those statents that you played from the president fro his pearances on the sunday talk shows are in some wayso people in the milary, to people who work closelywith mcchrystal verytartling. because they were opeting under th assution that the stragy was settled. you'll recall ck in march, the white house pmulgate add brand new afghanistan/pakian stragy that was a product of weeks ofork in which it said at to achieve the goal defeatg al qaeda in afghanistan andakistan,ne of the key things at the united states nds to do is have an integred civilian military counterinsurgency rategy. so that's wt general mcchrystal thought he was doing in prering this assement for the white house. >> rose: s what's going on here? simply becse he said he may need more tops and enthusiasm for that waras led them to say
we, if it's a questn of more perhaps trps, perhaps we ought to go a different direction? >> well, i think a lot of things have changed since march, and even since june/july when general mcchrtal was sen out to afghanistano replace general david mckiernan. the chief thing that's changed, charlie, w the afghan ections which were held on augu 20. and the elections by many accounts were st a total disaster. th were riled with fraud. the "new york times" rorting is morning that perhapsas many as one inour ballots now has to be reexamined bause ey might have been fraudulently ct. at this means is at the incumbent-- presidenhamid karzai-- who i ahead in the... ateast the preliminary count, and by all accounts lely will coinue on as presiden, wl be... will continuen as present under a huge cud of illegimacy and scandal. and to people in the white house and to peopl in the state
department, the look athis and say "howcan we mount a crediblecounterinsurgency campaign if our partner ther if the president o afghanistan is somebody who is viewed as ing illegitimatlyeelected." e biggest part of counterinsurncy is building up an effecte state, building an effecte governance and fighting corruption. how do you do that with somebody who was elected through rruption in the eyes of many people? and add tothat here in shington, leading democra have voiced increasing skepticism about senng more troops. public onion polling is showing a softenin in american support for the war effort some of our euroan alliesare becoming increasingly squeamish about continui their troop commitme. so when you ta all of this together from the peh in the white house, it cerinly looks like things havedamentally changed and maybe thiss the moment, they say, for us really fundamentally look hard at wt our approach is there
and maybe reexamine that i a big way. >>rose: the "new yorker" magazineas an article, lead article that called "point man on afghanistan." chard holbrooke ban his clear from vietn. can he no help the unite stes avoid the mistakes of e wain afghanistan. by geoe packer. where is ambassador o special reesentative holbroo on this? >> that's a good queion and at was just anexcellent piece by georg packer. u know, ambsador holbrook has been at t forefront of crafting a strategy to get more ameran civilians ou to afghanistan to help with reconsuction, with devopment d with governance, which is a kepart of this overa counrinsurgency strategy. in many ways, ambassador holbrook has been doing half of this worknd general mcchrystal has been doing the her half, which has been focusing the other side of things.
this haso be jarri forhim as welas general mcchrystal beuse certainly they' been bo opeting under the assumption thawhat the white house had wanted was th sword of broad intensivert trying to rebuild thefghan state so it could essentily take responsility for security actities and the reasoning behind all of this is that a more stableafghan state wi a more effectiveovernment, with re credible and effective security forces would naturly deny the taliban and tir al eda allies an environment in which to operate ther >> rose: ther any... i mean, is there an reason to believe tt the white house is less enthusiast about general mcchrystal? >> i don't tnk there's any reason tbelieve that. i thk that... i think that they'rjust looking at whole lot of different data points and saying, well, you know, perhaps for the commander inkabul this
ems to be a bit more straightforward but en we look at it from all of these other perspectives, it'sar more mplicated. but, y know, when you also look at e other approaches that the white house maye considering, some of them, quite frankl are rightup general mcchrystal's ley. i mean, he wasn't a counterinsurgency guy by training, he was tually a counterterrorism g. he had led th specials tos. and so some of what e white house may want to do may well play to general mcchrystal's strengths. >> rose: yeah, but i mean he fully had bout into thedea that you have to be vy, vy careful about what you're dog in ghanistan with respect to the population. and you've g to be friendly th the population a you each got to use them...ou have to build... he was a kindof nation buildi... he became a nation building kd of military leader in terms o his puic statements. >> oh, vy much so.
and in a very profound way here. i mean more so than perps any other top american commander i recent memory. i mean he'sone things like say "you can' drop bbs on housing compounds unless you're surehere are no civians in ere." for troops simply to belve there's some b guys in tre is not sufficien to drop bom. he's given guidance to these commanrs sayng "you've got to drive more politely on the roads. the barrelingdown the streets in your big humvees alienate it is popution. drive ke the afgha do." he's taken is sort unterinsurgency theory to art and to practice and is really tryg to fundamently change the culture ofhe way the military operates. in fact, in tsssessment there's a lotf that there. he's trying to make a very significanchange in the way everybody figh in afghanistan. >> rose: i mea, it seems to me ineading this that general mcchrystal-- and i sdhg as queson-- general mcchrystal is
very ctical of the afghan government. general mcchrysl understands the corruption proems,general mcchryal understands the role of tribal influen in afghantan. i mean, it's not likee has introduced them toew ideas other than wt he was asd to do, which is ell me how my americs... give me your aluation of what's necesry to do the job we char you with doing." >> indee and he'said it out in a very sober,lear-headed way. and, in fact, in som ways a very grim w. some mht suggesthat maybe genel mcchryal's done too go of a job here of trying to argue forore forces and may well have scared some peopl in thinking, well, mcchstal's from-the-heart fa for me resourcesnd his... the urncy that he ls out here may well benterpret bid som , well, maybe this can't be done. but mhrystal's clear in his assessment thahe believes if he has the resrces success is
achievable. bumaybe other people vi it differently. >> rose: but 's got a ar to do it, otherwise it willbe too late. if he doesn't have the resources, a year from now it's going be too late. >> that'she most significant part of this, charlie the fact that the commanding generalis sayingif we don't turnhis thing around in a year we're never going to be able to do it." >> rose: also the is, underlining all of this, isthat this i obama'sar. >> yes. >> rose: this is notraq where he's ending a war that was early a war of choice byhe prident. previous president. >> this is the polical context to all of this and the political potential riskacing the president. remember, when he campaigned, afghanistan was the good war. iraq was the bad war. iraq was the warf... parn me afghanistan s the war of necessity and iraq s the war of choe. and so even on the campaign trail he said afghanistan needed moretroops, afghistan needed
more resources. whene took office, withi a month, in february of this this ye, he dispatcd 21,000 additional military personl to afghanistan. now he faces this position. if he were to tn sort of pull back and say "look, i don't think ctinuing on this way makes sense," he opens himself up to a lot of criticism from the righ that he'sssentially flip-flopd from wh he was saying during the campaign. >> rose: i comeack to this, o. general mcchrystal was given the responsility by the presint too over there andive him his assessment and he told the geral "i'll give you all the resources you need" i.e. in tes of the smartespeople in the government to do ts. and then heoday him... genal mcrystal said i'm going to reach out anget a whole bunch of people from acamia and counterinsurgency rategies to come in here and help meake my assessment. not just within the military but a lot of her people. they do that and they ge it to the president and what i don't understand is what questions is
the predent now asking? wh does he need to know before he has strategy? >> the that's rely good question, chaie. and obviously psident hasn't articulated at his newand addional questions are. onthing we d know is tt during thissessment process, general mhrystal was summoned to nato air base in belgium fo a secret meeting with fense secretary bert gates andike mullen, the chairman of the int chiefs of staff and general praeus. and the among the things general mcchrystal was dodd do is to do more analysis on what thempact of the afghan elections uld be on all of this. now, this wa done before the ections and before theeports of fraud. i can imagine that thers some people in the white hoe who look at the assessmen anday there ar only a uple of pages in there about the afghan government, out the elections, and maybe we need ask some addition harder questions about howolitics in
afghanistan fundamenlly affects the couerinsurgency campaign that general mcrystal envisions and has drawn up in this assessment. >> rose: aree going over there fighting f a cuplt government? is that what thedea is? is that the fear? >> yes. the fear is how do you promote good governance? how do you fix these problems at a local level because i afghanistan most solutionsre local. but how do you do that when the national gernment is perceiv as so ineffecte and so corrup and,es, do u send american men and women to die in the sfz of a government that is seen broadly by many afghans as corrup >> rose: what does htory tell us tre? >> wel younow, when you look ba at historical paralle, yosee... i mean, even look back at vietnam, right? it's much hard to sort of wi over th suprt of local pple when they perceive their own government to be fundamentay ineffective and coupt. but it's also worth notg that
there's a key difference, there, ough, betwn vietnam and afghanista charlie, and that's that the's no romanticized notions amg the afghan peoe for whatt would be like live under the taliban like ere might have been... like there certainly were south vietnam when it came to the communists. the afghan pele have lived under a repreive taliban regime for some years and they've resoundingly rejecte that the fact that ey are acquiescg to the taliban, in some cases turni to the taliban is a stament of just how d an ineffective the cuent government is and how people d't have employment opportunitys so ny many cases ey take ten bucks a die fight for the talin. or they turn the taliban to judicate their distes because e police dandbribes before they' investigate a crime. so in some ways, the actual challenge fixing the governme, we don't have to create an ideal gernment there in the minds of many people, it's sply to create an
adnistration that's better than thetaliban's. and i should add that when go and travel through afghanistan-- which ie now donthree times thisear and talked to people at aocal lel-- i am surprised by the dege of public support out there for international forces for even legitite afghan military forces to co androtect the people. they jusfeel like nobody's protecting them. so in the absence of any authorit they're turningto the taliban because they have no choice. and they're fill with fear. >> rose:isten to this. ational security advisor jim jones, geral jim jes said sunday that mcchrystal's asssment will "be analyzed as to whether it is in sync wh th strategy that t president annound in march. as if the psident had a sttegy in march andow theye deciding whether thi assement by mcchrystal is in sync with the strategy >> and what mcchrystal's people
would sty that is, well, the firs bullet poi in the president's whit paper that w released in march calls for an integrated cilian/military counrinsurgency campaign. and what chrystal was doing was following that guidance. now, admittedly, there's agreement that the goal i narrow. the goal is to deny a qaeda from coming back. but the strategy thatwas articulated by thehite house after an interagency strategy review earli thi year was to haveomprehensive unterinsurgency effort. now that, of cours, as we hear from the presidt, from national security advisorones and others is being subjecto a new round examination and questionin >> ros the president has en involvedn health care reform and it's crial to how he believe... what he believes he has to do, whichis the right thinto do, is to change health re and he knowshat part of
his n administration is on the line there. i'm surprised this that there's been onl two meetings about assessing the strategy recommended by general chrystal according to you, right? >> in fact, on meeting at least as recently as this weeke. so there'sn a lot of consteation here on the part of the military sang, you know you've had thi assessment now for many ds, why aret there more meetin on this? why aren't y guys focusin in on bearing down on this. we're fighting a war out there and we need washington be able to ltitask. now, admittedly health ce is the top priority. thadministration wants a bill out ofongress soon. but there is fstration, palpablerustration on the pt ofheilitary. both at e pentagon and out in the fid in afghanistan. >> rose: where is secretary gates on all thi >> that's a good qution. i think secretaryates is somewhere in between.
you know, gates for a wle had been skeptal of increasing troops in ghanistan, noting that the soviets had something arou 120,000 or so troops when th were there and obviously we all know how thaended. now, of course, t soviet approach was very, very different than wha nato is trng to do. but when you add in the u.s. and the international troop component in afghanistan you know,ou're up somewhere nea that figure. not que there, but pretty high. and so ges has woered whether you really need more. no since chrystal's assessnt has landed in shington, ges has indicate oruggested that he might be open to supportingomething of an incree but hasn't plicitly come out and endorsed that. but what we also snow that gates will be a particularly influential ice in these discussions.
and i think will be actively helping to shape e esident's thinking on is going forward. >> rose: ande alsonow that the secretary h alway made clear hisnderstanding of story in afghanistan andhe perils of thinking you cano more than you can becse of the unique nature of that country. >> indeed. and it is a country whe you don't have a history of a strong central vernment. yodon't have a professional civil service. u don't have a strong military. you don't doave stng tribal rivalries and divisions and ethnic divisions and a country with a harsh geography a limited nural resoues. you have everything essentially going against you inhe world of nation building. this is... even with additional reurces, this is not going to be an easy, saightforward ta. and success won'tbe guaranteed here. but those who support nation building, who suppor a
comprehensiv counterinsurgency approach would argue that it really hasn't been tried by anyby. nobody's actuay tried to get is right yet, tried to protect the population. tried to workfrom key population nters and work out, focus on blding a professional and effective cal security force antrying to deliv services to the peopl and they say, look, this hasn't been done. and i note and they argue that whatas been done has been naower counterrrorism approach. they s "that'shat the bush administraon largely did for the firsfew years of the war." since september 11, 2001, or at least in the months after that. they say, look, that really didn't wk. and so do you really want to go back to that apprch? >>. >> re: do you mention the secretary of ste in your piece? >> don't. >> rose: what dohat say? >> well, what it says is that the real sort of person of
influence on afghanistan/kistan policy at e department of state is ambassador holbrooke he the person who'seally dog most of e keywork. obvisly he's doinging it in concert wi the secretary. she's briefed onall of this stuff. she participatesn the interagency discussions a a high level here. but the real point man he is holboke. >> rose: thiis almost in contradictioof what the present said yeerday because...alking about he had to have a strategy before de a commitment athen... this ifrom your piece. en president barack obama announced his strategy march there were f specificlesh out s broad goals and the military was left to interpret how to implement them asthey struggle over how the adjust to chan regular alty on the ground, somen the adminiration have begun to faul mcchrystal taking the policy beyonwhere obama intended with no easy ex but obama's deliberate pace, he's hold oy one top meing of his national security visors to discuss mcchrystal's so far, is a source of growi consternation within the military.
eith accept the assessment or coect it or let's have ace a discussion, e penton official said. will you read i and tell u whatou think. within the military this official said there's frustration, significant frusation, a serious frustration. sohen will that frustrion be addressed? >> well, i thinkthat's wt's ing to be takinglace over these next couple of week and i thk we could expect some contentiouclosed door meetings where you will have civilians-- some perha from the state department, some from the white house, national security cocil maybe even some civilia at the pentagon-- argui that the approach nds to be narrower. and you'll have the military saying, well the approach that you artulated was this broad approach. and perhaps a fundamental spute over just wt was meant ba in march. bui think youe starting to see from the commenthat was in
our story thisorning, from some of the her things that are percolang out there this sort of grong split between somef the civilian leaders an military leaders over just what was the sttegy, what is the strategy, and what should be t strategy goi forward. rose: and there's always this. i mean, the lessons we have learned, articulated by caspar weinberger and lin powell and others is that do you wa to engage arican men andomen in a cause if the arican public is not supporting it, a, a, b, you do not have any support from other cotries, any kind of multilateralm. all of thoseeem to be no factored into e president's decision. >> indee and, younow, let's ke those one at a time i mean, it is true that america public support forhis war effortslipping. now, people on the other sid of that argument would say, well
they would argue that the white house needs to do more to sell this to the public, to connce peop that this is worth fighti, to tie it bac to 9/11 and such. the administration ds face a veryeal and growing problem with regard to nato's support, international communities' support for this. the dutch ve announcedhat they will be sort of pullingut of onef the provinc in the south of afghanistanext year. the canadians plan to discontinue theirlead nation status in kandahar, the majo city in e south the follong yearn the wake of the deaths ofix ilian sdiers last week therere new calls for italy to bring its forces home. italy has been responsib for a large part of e northwest of ghanistan. in germany-- which will be having elections soon-- the qution of aontinued commitment in afghanistan is a
big issue in that camign. so there a genuine issue here with regar to nato's contied commitment goi forward there. and violence metastasizes into other pas of afghanistan, rently seeing an irease in taliban activity in the north, for inance, and those e places where there are few u. troops but priipally troops fromur european allies,the very real question comes to the table ow do y deal with that if t eureans want to reduce numbers d thetaliban see a soft underbelly and are pushing intohese other parts the untry? ". >> rose:onclusion seems to me-- and tell me if this is right-- one, it's urgen mcchrystalas certaly pointed out the urgency of decide not guilty to and dog something now. d secondly it seems to me to bethat there hato be a reassessment becau of the elecon and other things. they need to have an urgt
decision and there ought to be, asart of that process, a real national debate. well, i think that's what's going to happen. w, the question isthe degre to wch that debate ll be a national debate that will volve members of congress, that will be sort of surfed in public, orthe degre to this which that debe actually takes place behind close doors. and thbush administration had approach for dealing with congress which w to set its ownolicy and pretty much to igre congressandto sort of get congresso agree to fund it or threaten th to be in the sition of cutting off fding. it wilbenteresting to see with a democratic president d a democratic majority in coress whether he will seek to impose his will on congress that way and whether they'll try to bring genelcchrystal to capitohill to try sell the strategy if nay decide to move forward with further resourcing counterinsurgency frat ji like
general mcchrystal calls for or whether they will seek t interactith capitol hill in a fundently different way. >> rose: t discuion continues,ajiv. ank you so much. >> a pleare to talkto you continue, charl. >> re: we'll be right back. stay with us. >> rose: haleh esfandiari is here. she is anranian author, she is the foundin director of the woodrow wilson center's middle east program. in 2007, she was detned after a visit to her native couny to see her ang 93-year-old mother. she was accused of takg part in an america conspacy for regime chae. she spent mo than 100 days in solita confinement and was interroged for hours. shwas finally releas in septemr, 2007. she writes about her experiences in a new book, it is cled "my prison, myhome." i very,ery pleaseto have her here for t first time. alough her husband has been
here many times. welcome. >> thankou. thank you, charlie. >> ros in fact,e talked th m at the time in yo opinion prison. >> yes. >> rose: just... tell me the story. is it fair to your mother to ke sure iave the a she w so she can appreciate e sense... >> sure,ure. ihad... i went toisit my mother and spent chrtmas with her cause she was... sheas an austria and lived in iran so shecelebrated chstmas. and i spent theeek with her anon the 30th of december, 2006, i said good-bye to her, tellinheri'll be bac for the persn new year in marc" anheaded to the airpo. halfy on the route t the airport, i was...he car was stopped and we were pushed to the se and four knife-wielding men jumped out of the car. >> rose:knife-wielding? >> yes, they wereaving kves
attached to their waist and, you know, th were quite large knives. and one of them came and sat next to me and the other one told th driver topen the trk, he took my suitcase, o took. the third one took my carron bag, which was on the front seat next to t dver, and the guy who satext to started going rough my purse. and i'd really thoht because they wer carrng knives, i thought it w aobbery. you ow? happens in every big city. so said "pase, take everhing you want, just give memy two passpts and my ticket bause i'm traveling." d all i remember from his fac was. you know, he was wearing glses and there was a sinister in on his face and then he took th purse and they told m to go uer the seat. and they really used ofanities that i have never in my entire
life... i grewp in iran, never hed. and they went and i went back me and the next day i srted going and applying for a new passport and veryoon i found outhat this was not robbe, this was the work of the intelligence ministr >> rose: andow did you find that out? >> i was told to go and meet with the pasort officer, whi i thought was roine. you know, i don'tive iran they want ask certain question buwhen the questns started becoming personal, i started woying. becaus for example, he asked "you are marri to a jew." and i said "yes." "h much do you earn? what isour salary?" you know? "give us the name of yr grandchildn." they wersix and fr at t time.
d ... and "talk to us about the nature of your work a the wilson nter" so we spent a couple of hours a i answered all these questions but i wasn't feeling comfortable, you know? already i sensed that th is not your usual question-and-answers iyou lose a passport. i went home and that afternoon i got phone call fromthis guy who introduce mself as mr. jafari. occasionallye would say "i'm your ierrogator" occasially he wld say "i'm an expert." so he called and said "cod you please ce to such and such an dress." and the moment he gavee address, i knew that this is o of the headqrters of the intelligence ministr >> rose:o you went tre? >> i went there the nextay. rose: and that was a series of interrogations. >> that was the beginning of eight months country arrest of
which ipent so 5 days in pris. >> rose: in sitary confinement ... >> 105 days in solitary confinement. >> rose: and youere sent to the worst prison there was. >> yes. yes. rose: and when you were sent there re you fearful of their intent? >> sure. first of all, everyday when i went for interrogation, i wasn't sure whetherhey would let me go. i was afraid the whole eight mont, you know? secondly, when they took know prison, i mean, i had read aot about ison, you know? i'm student of ira so i ow what's happeni in these places both before and posrevolution. so i was worried. i thought they'd kille. >> rose: just disappe. >> just disappear. >> rose: andome people have gone to pron and the aftermath of the protest againstthe eltion have died in prin. rose: yes >> and they've died in n prison
d some have disappeed, some have been found wanderingbout the outside tehra in... not inhabited places. so, yes. i wa very worried, youknow? >> rose: so wh do you think it was about? the intelligee minisy believedr had convinced the people who worked there, had coinced themselves andhad convince the officef the president al that theunited stat is not goi to attack iran because it's bogd down in aq andin afghanistan. it's not going attackmilitarily iran and i won't do en a surgical strik but since ey have been emies for the last 30 yea, it wl try and overtow the regime through softeans. >> rose: rime change? >> yes. thugh soft means. and the soft revolution mnt, younow, funding n.g.o.s
inting people to come tthe united stes to take part in conferences, ehange of academics, giving fellowships, arranging work shoppsor women and etc., etc. and that waseally their concern. >> rose: we should underline this point they actually believe that. in other words, u had nooubt that they weren't tryg to hara you, they actually beeve you were partf some effort. >> i wish they thoug i was part of. i thought i amhe mastermind! >> rose: oh, they thght you were in arge of it? >> y. >>ose: because of your roll woodrow wilson >> yes and bause i was abiranian ameran and because i was a 67-year-old grandmother and i would not raise suspicion. >> rose: visiting your 93-year-old. >> visiting my 93ear-old moth. yeah. i mean, they really re convincethat there is such a plot. >>ose: so why are they so convced? becae they know little about the uned states?
because the are certain things that would... they have seen that would indicate that to them? what? >> first of all, they know very little on american research centers, amecan think tanks, even arican universities function. just because. the president of the wilson cent, lee hamilton, used tobe for 13 years a member of congress.... >> rose: and chair of th house foreign affair committee. >> they thought there i a link between e wilson center and the united stes government, you know? so they had convinced themselves about that. and don't forget, charlie i was detained under the bush administration. >> rose: right. >> and there hadeen a lot of loose talk going on arod washingt about regim change and also congress had allocated 5 million to promote docracy in iran. so they were very suspicious of althese things. >> rose: i mean, there's always this debate about iran policy,
or assumption of a debate which was you change the regime or youhange... >> behaor. >> rose:.. the behavr. >> i don't think the wanted either. they nther wanted regime change in iran nor did the welcome behaviorchange, y know? and i think had whington not locatedhat money and had washington engaged iran, this would have not happened to me and today wouldn't have seen other iranian amerins and americans tting in jail. i really think there was this misunderstanding and lack of exchange between t two untries, the two governments. >> rose: i want to come to how yogot out. so finally what happened to you and then we'l talk more about u.s./irani policy. >> one afternoon they came and to me that there h been an exchange of lette between
mr. hamilton-- whos the president of the wilson center- andayatollah combny. >> rose: lee wrote hi or sen a message to him? >> mr. am ill o the wre to him and ayatollah khamenei h written back to him and this was the first me the leader of the office had written to a very high level americaofficial and that he should goto new york and pick up that letter and and i said "do what do you want know do from jail? i'm sitting in prison. i mean, i haven't talked to my husband in three months. i've seen my mothe once." and they said "call yr mother and tell her to tell your huand to tell the wilson center that he should go and pick up th lette so my husband went, picked up the letter replyed to that letter and three weeks later one afternoon i was called for what i thought was interrogaon. we went to my interrogation and i was told can go home.
and for a brief moment i thoht this is a cruel joke. because they were ve good at making the kind of cruel jokes you know? d they saidno, you can go." and then i went back to the ward and to my cell and i said "i can go home." >> rose: tom freedman wrote at the time-- a i know you read this and it' often quoted-- this is what he said on may 20, 2007. "thisranian regime is afraid of its shadow. how do i know? it recently arrested a 67-year-old grandmother om it acsed of trying to brg down the regime by organizin academic conrences. yes, big tough, president maoud ahminejad, the man who shows us how tough he is declaring the holocaust a myth, had hi goons arrest hale esfandri, a 67-year-old scholar, grandmother, anddual iranian/u.s.itizen while she was vising her 93-year-old mother in tehran. do you kw how paranoid you have to be to ink that a
67-year-d grandmother visiting her 93-year-old mothercan bring down yr regime? now that is insecure." do you agree withhat? >> sure. i truly... i agree that... at a time and i think now, too, they are insecure, ty are paranoid, they feel they are surrounded by the united states. the united states has a presence in the persian gulf, in central as, in iraq, in ghanistan. and they really are paranoid and they just want to get rid of any possibility of a regime chge. you kn, through a velvet revoluti and through st means. >> ros the velvet revolution is what they fea >> yes. that's it. they hav studi very carefully what had happened in georgiand the ukraine, the roserevolution anthe orange revolution. and ey really had studied it. so theyried to fit in what we were doing a otherthink tanks
we doing in the united stes in that puzzle they had s for themselves on the table and the wereooking at it. d they were constantly telling mehere are pieces missing in that pzle, te us what it is. and i id "what do you want know tl you? i n't know at all what y are talking abt." and they were also very suspicious of the fouations, american fouations, you know. the ford foundation. >> rose: do they know th differencen terms of the political spectrum inamerica? so if something, say, is being very harsh about iran i written by someo of a ceain political persuasion, they recognize that a so thefore know that is not anhere nr what government polic is? do ty have that sophistation about whathey read? >> n and i giveou an example, becae i told them that mrhamilton and jim bar in the iraq report talked about engagi iran. and the aner was "no, this is
a pl to underne us." so where do you start? you know, for eightonths i talked tohese people ani don't thin i made that mh of a difference. rose: who's behind the haest line in iran? where does it come from? >> there are twogroups inhe intelligence ministry, the more moderate and the more extreme. so it's a combination of the extreme groups in the intelligence ministry plus the revolutiary guard. for the first te you seehe revolutionary guard being involved in political discussionand pitical affairs in iran because, according tothe constitution, they are notupposed to do that. so you have th rolutionary gud. these are thenes who came out into the strts along with the paramilitaryho beat up and arreed and killed people. >>ose: so where is ahmadinejad in all of this?
>> ahmadinejad must support these people because they made sure he wa... >> rose: oy, but is he their toolr are they his tool? >> i thi everybo is mr. meini's tool. beuse the ultimate decision maker is mr. hoe menne. and soar he s supported the president and so far he has supported th revolutionary guard. i think they all work hand in hand for the tim being but i personally believe that the genie's out of the bote. the revolutionary guard is going at some stage if they fine it necessary will turn against their own people. >>ose:heir own people... >> meaning the govnment and, necessary, some of the clerics. >> rose: even ahdinejad? >> not necessarily h. because he... >>ose: i've been told ahmadined fears anti-govnment forces not from th reform elementight
chalnge him. that there's... i mean, tt see wary of erybody else today in iran. >> oh, that is sure. >> rose: noonenows quiteure ere everybody else and s a who theyan depend o >> yeah. that'sad. becausif you can't depend on certain forces... but so far ahmadinejad has been very goo to e revolutionary ards. both in his firsterm andow ever since he s reelected. heas been giving them lotf om for manver. so i think he makes sure that he has the support of them. >> rose: a you heful in any way about the futureof iran? >> sure. i've been hopeful for theuture of iran ev since i was born, really, hoping tt iran will be a progreive,democratic couny. it might take some time but, y i am hopef. >>ose: why? >> becau i feel that my compatots, the iranians, are
resourceful pele. they are not intimidated, they are vy pient a they believe in a democratic rege and they want that. and eventually the... >> se: is that the vast majority of the citizenryr... >> the vast majity of the citizenry. iran is an educated... the anians are weleducated peop. >> rose: and deeply cultural, too. >> andhere is, yes, the culte. and don'ttor get we have this younger generation who is wir the rest of the world. you know? they have... they watch through the intern what's going on the world. they send.m.s.s, they twitter, so they do everything. they are wired to the world and th know exactly what's happening in the rest of the world and they wan that for them. >> rose: let's aume take someoneike mr. mousavi. would he be a frid to the united states? how would he b different from ahmadineja beyond rhetoric?
>> i thi he would more rthcoming to discussing issues with e unitedstates. because as told you earlier, the ultimate decision mer is theeader. so even if he wanted to go and embrace the ited state, he uld don't it ande wouldn' do i you rememberr. qahtani. he tried to reach out to the uned states. >> rose: rht after the invasion of iraq. >> yes. and even when he bame president he reach out to the united states. he ve.... >> ros and what hapned? >> what happed is that the clinn administration did not get back toim at least with some substanal thing a then later on the leader p a stop to that and mr. khamenei gave an interview an saidventually
"it's i who decide wn is the right time to talk to the united states." >> rose: and he hasn't decided yet. >> wdon't know yet no. >> rose: the fa is that he hasn't said it, we asse he hasn't decided >> exactly. >> rose: the is also th. a number of reports have come forward in the u.s. press, in newspapers that cover iran and america and the state department and foreign policy and they're saying there's an effo at engagement. that there have been some communication taking place with this gernment as to how ey might procd todiscuss the serious issueshat they divide on. is that true? as far as yo know? >> well, it's hd t kw, but know that president obamis very much forengagement and he s written we know a least one letter, mayb two letters to ayatollah khamenei. >> rose: is this befor the election or afterhe election? >> ihink one s before and
e we don't kn when. the firsone was before. and they didn get involved in the election, you know. when the elections were going on. an afterward i thinkheir condemnation of the atrocities was very just, to the poi. >> rose: and not overdone in order to... >> not overdone. >> rose: i thin most pple beeve that theranians want nuclear weons. do you belie they want nuclear weapons othey want nucle power which th might later use to delop nuclear weapons if they wanto? >> you know, i'm not an expert on nucle issues. but i know that at this sge they wil probay wanuclear power th the possibility of turning itf necessary into a nuclear weapon but at ts stage i think if you rely on wh the "eyeopener" says and what the american...
y yay says, they real want accesso nuclear power. >> re: so what finallyhould be the american policy toward iran? >> talk to tn and fd out what happening. >> re: that's not policy. talko them is not a picy. oh, sure, engage th. why not? engage them. >> rose:ut should we offer them something? should we say them "we' not going turn to sctions"? should wsay to them... we're coming in without pre-conditions is what they're saying. yfrjts. >>es. and but theylso know ifhey don't come ton agrment over the nuclear issue there is going to be a third round of sanctions. but the problem th the united states h is that russia and ina may not be on board. and that's why e europns are saying tha well, we can do it without em, without t u.n. security council, the europeans and the unit states together will impose thi sanction. >> rose: they can do it thout the u.n. so therefore the iranians are scared at it might happen? >> but i think the united stas
should also talk about th human rights violaon in iran. that's very important. i meanif you just sweep that away and say for the time being we are not going to talabout the violatns of human rights, that is reall approving of what happeng. >> rose: wheneporters-- and this is in the last seral weeks-- after the election and after the protest in thetreets and afteall this happened, when reporters say tt there is me engagementaking place or efforts at engagement, you know, which is a... how does that work? who talks to who >> there a always go-betwns at are tied to diploma. they mt somewhere in europe, a group iranians who are not... who are clos to the iranian president and the group of americans who probay find an ear in the white house and in stateepartment meet together. and is has been going on for god kno, the last two decades, you know?
>> rose: so people who say there have been ncontact don't know what they're saying. they know at's going , sure. rose: thank you forcoming. it's a pleasure toee you. "my prison, my home." thank you again. >> thank you very much >> ros thank you for joini us. see you next time captioni sponsored by rose communications captioned by media acss group at wgbh access.wgbh.org